First-Time Pet Owner Tips You Don’t Want to Forget

Owning a pet for the first time falls on the higher end of the responsibility scale - just shy of having a baby (and some will debate that!). Thus, you can’t simply go into it without any sort of knowledge or preparation. First-time pet owners can misjudge their own readiness. Don’t be that person. Instead, be ready to be a loving, capable dog or cat owner. Here’s how


Match your lifestyle (and be realistic)


First things first: Be honest with yourself. Are you active? Do you have allergies? How large is your backyard? How well-behaved are your children? You can’t bring a pet into a home that’s incongruous to their needs. That’s how relationships become antagonistic, and the pet’s quality of life suffers.

For example, if you have a mild but manageable cat allergy, then opt for a shorter-haired breed. Are you a sedentary person? Then don’t get a dog breed that is highly energetic and requires a lot of exercise. Just be realistic. Are you looking for a really low-maintenance pet? A dog or cat may not be right for you, and a turtle, lizard or guinea pig may be your best match.


If you’re unsure, try an online breed matching quiz.


Get the right supplies, and don’t be cheap


Your new pet may only need food, water, and shelter to survive - but they need a whole lot more to flourish. This includes, but is not limited to, treats, toys, crates, and chewables. Your list of supplies should be thorough, and you should do your shopping before you bring the pet home. New environments will make most pets nervous, and you don’t want to have to leave them there alone while you go out shopping.


Pet-proof for all possible scenario


Is it likely that your new cat is going to be able to open your cabinets and drink harmful chemicals? Probably not, but it is possible. You have to plan for all contingencies - even the ones with a small chance of actual occurrence. Poisonous chemicals should be locked away. You should check online for which houseplants are toxic to animals, and plan accordingly. Cover all air vents. While you may be planning on keeping your new dog contained at first, this is still vital. Your new cat will likely not be contained at all. Check here for more on pet-proofing


Give them a safe space


Though you eventually want your new pet to have freedom throughout your home, it’s normal for them to feel safer in confined, designated spaces at first. This will help with their adjustment and also keep your home free of potty accidents. This safe space should be packed with everything they need to be happy and secure, and should be away from highly-trafficked areas.


Know that the protocol is a bit different if your first-time pet is elderly


Adopting a pet in their twilight years is a noble thing to do. To give an old dog or cat a home is to put yourself through a bit of heartache for the sake of the animal - and that’s awesome. But you do need to understand that an elderly pet is a different challenge than a puppy, kitten, or pet in their prime years.

For example, you may need to secure their food and water to a raised platform, as bending their necks down could be painful for them. An older cat may need a lower opening to be able to access the litter box. An older dog may need to live their life entirely on the first floor, as stairs can be tricky.

One final tip: Practice patience in all regards. This is new for them, too. You’re not going to make a new pet do what you want through yelling and punishment. Take the time to choose the right pet for your life, set up your home for pet-raising success, and give them time to acclimate to their new surroundings. Pet ownership isn’t a cakewalk, but if you do your best and try to give them a loving, structured home, then you’ll give yourself a companion for life


Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

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How To Keep Your Dog Fit And Healthy

Many pet owners think of their dog as another member of the family, which makes it extremely difficult when he gets sick or suffers an injury. That’s why it’s important to make sure your dog is fit and healthy, not only so he’ll get the most enjoyment possible from life, but so he’ll live for a long time. It’s not always easy, however, as many of us lead busy lives that keep us from spending as much time as we’d like with our pets.

One great way to ensure your dog stays fit is to create a routine that both of you can enjoy together. Head to the park, go for a hike, or play games in the backyard. Not only will this help both of you stay active and healthy, it will allow you to spend more quality time together, which will keep him happy and feeling loved -- the best way to prevent behavioral issues.

Here are a few tips on how to help keep your dog fit and healthy.


Ease Up on the Treats


Every good dog likes treats now and then, but it’s important to keep them a sporadic thing instead of handing them out every day. Many dog treats are high in calories, and some pups come to rely on those rather than eating their more nutritious food. Keep them hidden away, and only give them out as praise for good behavior.


Pick the Perfect Diet


Depending on your dog’s breed and size, his diet may need to be controlled. Talk to your vet about the perfect diet for your pup’s specific needs; for instance, he may require more protein to keep up his energy, or if he’s a little overweight, you might look for weight-control food or consider portion control. Just be sure to talk it over with the vet before you make any changes, as it could cause issues with your dog’s energy level.


Give Him Plenty of Exercise


All dogs need lots of exercise and playtime, but the type can vary. Some prefer to run around, while others like to accompany their owners on long walks where they can be free to explore. If your backyard is big enough, consider building a dog run that will let your pup stay active even when you’re not home. Dog runs can vary in size and scope; click here for more details. Give your pup some options and allow him to find fun in exercise, but be sure to use the right leash and collar to keep your dog safely by your side so that the two of you can enjoy staying active.


Give Him Lots of Attention


Physical exercise and the right diet are one thing; it’s also extremely important to give your dog lots of attention and affection. This will keep his mental health on track and will positively affect his behavior and mood, so make an effort to have playtime, cuddles, and hang-out time every day. If you have a busy week and can’t spend as much time with him as you’d like, consider hiring a dog-walker, or ask a family member to pay extra attention to him.


Visit the Vet Regularly


Just like us humans, dogs need regular checkups to make sure everything looks good physically and mentally. Schedule appointments with the vet, and make sure he gets all his shots. Stay on top of his flea, tick, and heart worm medication, as well.

Keeping your dog fit, active, and healthy will also keep him happy, and it will allow him to live a long and satisfying life. With some good planning and a little help from friends and family, you and your pet can have many good years -- and memories -- together.  

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 Tips to Prevent Your Pup from Misbehaving in Public Spaces

More and more restaurants, workspaces, and other public areas are shifting toward a dog-friendly mentality. Of course, if you want to bring your pup to a communal area, it’s important to ensure that they are well-behaved and suited for it. While some dogs simply prefer staying at home, many canines can be trained to conduct themselves in a friendly and social manner. Try these tips and soon you and your four-legged best friend can relax on patios and attend outdoor events together before you know it.


The Tenets for Dog Training


Whether you are training your dog to do a few obedience commands or if you two are on the path to agility courses, below are a few tenets everyone can use as a foundation for influencing dog behavior.


● Training should be fun for both you and your pup.

● Good behavior is always reinforced.

● Sessions don’t need to last for more than 15 minutes.

● The trainer should always be consistent.

● You are your dog’s alpha.


When you make the training fun, your dog is more likely to learn and adhere to the commands you give them. Pups also have short attention spans, so a long training session isn’t going to do them much good. Once you’re done learning for the day, treat your dog to a walk, a game of fetch, or some other activity they love -- it’s another form of positive reinforcement. Your secret weapons when it comes to training are a pocket full of treats and plenty of praise. When your dog picks up a command and behaves well, showing them approval with a treat and a praise helps ensure they do it again and again. Of course, if you want your dog to be consistent, you have to show them how. Changing up the game in the middle of play will only confuse a dog. Finally, always remember that you are supposed to be your dog’s alpha or pack leader. If you approach training with that alpha confidence, your dog will follow.


Dog Walking Basics and Safety


If you are taking your pup to a public place, they need to be on a leash. Leash training comes naturally for some dogs, but others have trouble grasping the limitations that come with it. This is just one of the reasons to avoid using retractable leashes. Because they get longer and shorter at your whim, the boundaries are not fully established, which confuses your dog. When walking your dog, be wary of approaching other pups in public. Keep your body relaxed and ask the other walker if it is okay for your two dogs to meet. If the other dog has aggression issues, they will likely say no. However, it is also your responsibility to monitor the dogs’ behavior and make an informed decision about whether the two will get along.


Meeting Your Dog’s Essential Needs


If your dog needs to do their business, walk them away from people and manicured lawns. It is rude to let your dog go in front of people, and you may offend someone by letting them go on very manicured grass. It is better to find a secluded and shaded area, let them go, and clean it up completely before throwing it away. Remember: always clean up after your pooch. Dog feces contain harmful microorganisms that can infect the water supply, other dogs, and people.


Beyond that particular need, your dog should also always have a fresh supply of water. While some dog-friendly restaurants will have their own water bowls for dogs, you can’t count on it. It’s best to invest in a portable bowl that you keep with your dog’s poop bags, leash, and training treats. Making sure your companion stays hydrated can help prevent heat stroke in dogs.


While more and more businesses are becoming dog-friendly, it is always up to the owner to ensure their pup is on their best behavior. Help your dog learn basic obedience commands and gain their trust as an alpha. When walking your dog, be cautious when approaching other dogs and avoid retractable leashes. Be respectful of other people’s space, and carry a water bowl with you so your dog stays properly hydrated. 

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Raising A Friendly Canine Neighbor

Photo credit by Pixabay

Most dog owners want their neighbors to be friends with their dog but many get off on the wrong foot. That can end the relationship before it begins. However, there are steps you can take to help your dog be a good neighbor.


Safety First

Keeping your neighbors is safe is one of the most important rules of dog etiquette. You want to make sure that your new dog does not run all over the neighborhood or scare the local kids. Here are tips that can help:


* Setting Boundaries.

Your dog should be leashed whenever he is away from home. You should also restrain him if he is growling or looks set to jump or pounce. Finally, it’s a good idea to fence in your yard to protect your dog from running into the neighbor’s yard. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs around $1,643 - $3,857 to install a fence – a good investment to keep your neighbors happy!


* Safety With Visitors.

When your dog is home and multiple guests are visiting, make sure you create boundaries for him there too. You can keep him in the yard, crate him,

or set up a gate to keep him inside a certain area. Follow this rule if you have any new guests whom your dog has not met .

* Obedience Training. 

For puppies and dogs that are not too old, obedience training can be a good option. This will make your life much simpler, too, as an obedient dog is calmer and easier to manage.


* Don’t Overstimulate Your Dog’s Senses

Dogs can be sensitive to extreme sounds, sights, temperatures, and more. When possible, keep your dog away from loud, scary noises or bright, flashing lights, such as fireworks. Also be sure that he doesn’t overheat in warm weather. Keep his coat neatly groomed and have plenty of water on hand. Read the ASPCA’s article on keeping your pet safe during the summer.


* Spay Or Neuter Your Dog. 

This can help reduce aggressive behaviors. Check out this page of questions and answers on spaying or neutering your puppy from American Kennel Club.


For more tips, the American Humane Society features a page about socializing your dog at any age.


Introductions

Once you think your dog is ready, you can introduce him to your neighbors. This may take time – and that’s ok! You should be aware of how your neighbor feels about dogs and/or pets in general. Have they had a traumatic experience? Are they afraid? Do they want to get to know your dog?


If your neighbor has children, those introductions should be separate if there is any trepidation on his part. You want to make sure he is comfortable first.


Next, make sure your neighbor knows your dog’s habits. Tell him what triggers your pet. If he is new to dogs altogether, teach him a few basics things about how dogs interact: how they sniff, what they see as threatening, etc. Your dog should not be barking, snipping, or rearing. If so, you might want to postpone introductions for another time. Additionally, do not set out to introduce your dog to others if he is sick or medicated. It may lead to unpredictable behavior.


Read WikiHow’s step by step article on how to introduction your dog to your neighbors.


Solving Your Dog’s Problems

Dogs can present numerous problems that may upset your neighbors, including:

* Growling

* Snapping

* Chewing

* Peeing where it’s not allowed

* Barking through the night

Each behavior has a cause so you, or you and your vet, must determine what that is. Some are relatively simple to understand. For example, excessive chewing in a puppy may mean he is teething. The Spruce’s article on problematic dog behaviors can help you determine how to fix a number of different issues.


Teaching your dog proper etiquette around people is not difficult. He can become friends with your neighbor if you take the time to plan your introduction well and minimize problems.

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Raising A Friendly Canine Neighbor

First things first: Be honest with yourself. Are you active? Do you have allergies? How large is your backyard? How well-behaved are your children? You can’t bring a pet into a home that’s incongruous to their needs. That’s how relationships become antagonistic, and the pet’s quality of life suffers.

For example, if you have a mild but manageable cat allergy, then opt for a shorter-haired breed. Are you a sedentary person? Then don’t get a dog breed that is highly energetic and requires a lot of exercise. Just be realistic. Are you looking for a really low-maintenance pet? A dog or cat may not be right for you, and a turtle, lizard or guinea pig may be your best match.

If you’re unsure, try an online breed matching quiz.

Get the right supplies, and don’t be cheap

Your new pet may only need food, water, and shelter to survive - but they need a whole lot more to flourish. This includes, but is not limited to, treats, toys, crates, and chewables. Your list of supplies should be thorough, and you should do your shopping before you bring the pet home. New environments will make most pets nervous, and you don’t want to have to leave them there alone while you go out shopping.

Pet-proof for all possible scenarios

Is it likely that your new cat is going to be able to open your cabinets and drink harmful chemicals? Probably not, but it is possible. You have to plan for all contingencies - even the ones with a small chance of actual occurrence. Poisonous chemicals should be locked away. You should check online for which houseplants are toxic to animals, and plan accordingly. Cover all air vents. While you may be planning on keeping your new dog contained at first, this is still vital. Your new cat will likely not be contained at all. Check here for more on pet-proofing.

Give them a safe space

Though you eventually want your new pet to have freedom throughout your home, it’s normal for them to feel safer in confined, designated spaces at first. This will help with their adjustment and also keep your home free of potty accidents. This safe space should be packed with everything they need to be happy and secure, and should be away from highly-trafficked areas.

Know that the protocol is a bit different if your first-time pet is elderly

Adopting a pet in their twilight years is a noble thing to do. To give an old dog or cat a home is to put yourself through a bit of heartache for the sake of the animal - and that’s awesome. But you do need to understand that an elderly pet is a different challenge than a puppy, kitten, or pet in their prime years.

For example, you may need to secure their food and water to a raised platform, as bending their necks down could be painful for them. An older cat may need a lower opening to be able to access the litter box. An older dog may need to live their life entirely on the first floor, as stairs can be tricky.

One final tip: Practice patience in all regards. This is new for them, too. You’re not going to make a new pet do what you want through yelling and punishment. Take the time to choose the right pet for your life, set up your home for pet-raising success, and give them time to acclimate to their new surroundings. Pet ownership isn’t a cakewalk, but if you do your best and try to give them a loving, structured home, then you’ll give yourself a companion for life.  


Request An Appointment